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Redeemed Sinner. Deep Roots. Southern Heart.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Impact Of The Scots-Irish On America, Part 3

During the birth of our country, around 400,000 Scots-Irish came to the colonies. Although they took up roots all along the Eastern coast, most settled in the Appalachian and Allegheny mountains. Here, they sheltered less warlike people, such as the Quakers, from Indian attacks. As they fought for survival, they recognized the Indian's warfare style as similar to the guerrilla-type tactics also used by their fathers against the English invaders.They would later use these to good effect against the British.

As the conflict between Britain and America began to spark, it was clear to many that the Scots-Irish were carrying on their generational struggle against tyranny. At this time, most of the colonist population spoke with a Scottish accent. One of the best-selling books was Lex Rex: or the law is king, by the Scottish pastor Samuel Rutherford. Rutherford had experienced persecution caused by the Stuart tyranny and he had written this book in order to debunk the myth that the king was above the law thus, not accountable to it.

But there was internal dissension among the colonists between the Puritans and the Scots-Irish. Although the New England Puritans were Godly people, the two cultures were constantly clashing, especially as Unitarianism swept into the North following the War for Independence. James Webb states in his book, (pg.134) "the Scots-Irish were the cultural antithesis of those who had founded New England". Around this time there was a major southward shift for the Scots-Irish as more and more began settling in North and South Carolina. Why was this? Because Virginia, and north of Virginia, had been taken over by the Anglicans.

As the War for Independence began, an unofficial military group was formed. Known as the "Black Robed Regiment", so called because of the black robes worn by the clergy, these fighting Scots-Irish pastors incited the people to rebellion against the British. They also acted as chaplains, fulfilling a role similar to the Covenanter pastors of the 1600's. They were men like John Witherspoon and James Caldwell, who led their flocks to the Lord on Sunday, and led their men to battle during the week. In many instances these black clad men could be heard fervently praying for the Lord's blessing on the soldiers, before battle, as they went about their duty.

Presbyterian zeal swept the nation. An Anglican, living in Philadelphia, said, "a Presbyterian Loyalist is a thing unheard of". In the political and governmental realm, men like Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry, both of Scottish descent, eloquently complemented the work of the Black-Robed regiment. One Hessian officer wrote: "Call this war by whatever name you may, only call it not an American rebellion; it is nothing more or less then a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian rebellion. Considering the cultural diversity of the colonies at this time, it is amazing that the Scots-Irish composed one-third to one-half of the colonists fighting force (Continental Army and local militia). In the end, it was the hard-bitten, keen-eyed Presbyterians, using the guerrilla tactics they knew so well, that set the tide against the British in the Southern colonies.

After the war, dissension tore at the new union of colonies. The United States became a nation on March 4, 1789, despite strong opposition from Patrick Henry, and other Scots-Irish, who argued that the Constitution guaranteed too much power to a central government. As Unitarianism swept through the North along with the effects of the French Revolution, the Scots-Irish began a major migration away from the North.

This conflict would culminate in the War for Southern Independence. Watch for Part 4!

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